UK police end ‘Partygate’ probe with 126 fines issued
LONDON — London police said on Thursday they had completed their probe into the "Partygate" scandal rocking Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government and issued a total 126 fines in all.
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that of the fines issued for breaching COVID-19 restrictions, 73 were to women and 53 to men but that some people received more than one fixed penalty notice.
Police were called in to investigate gatherings at Downing Street and across government departments on eight dates between May 2020 and April 2021.
Last week, the force said it had issued more than 100 fines. The exact amount of the penalties has not been confirmed, but the fines can range from £30 to £10,000 for the most serious breaches.
Those fined so far include Johnson, his wife Carrie and finance minister Rishi Sunak.
The government said they were fined for a gathering in Downing Street marking the prime minister's birthday in June 2020.
Johnson has said he would reveal if he receives further fines.
Britain's domestic Press Association news agency said it understands the prime minister has not yet received notification of another fixed penalty notice.
The probe was launched on January 25 and saw 12 detectives sift through 345 documents, including emails, door logs, diary entries and witness statements, 510 photographs and security camera footage and 204 questionnaires, the Met said.
"When COVID-19 regulations were introduced, the Met was clear that whilst we would not routinely investigate breaches of regulations retrospectively, there may be occasions when it would be appropriate to do so," said the Met's Acting Deputy Commissioner Helen Ball.
"The information that we received with regard to the alleged breaches in Downing Street and Whitehall was sufficient to reach our criteria to begin such an investigation.
"Our investigation was thorough and impartial and was completed as quickly as we could, given the amount of information that needed to be reviewed," she said.
"This investigation is now complete."
Johnson has apologized for the breach of COVID-19 regulations, but refused demands to resign after becoming the first UK leader to be found to have broken the law while in office.
Johnson also faces an investigation by a parliamentary committee into his past denials to the House of Commons of lockdown lawbreaking.
The parties have fueled widespread public anger against the ruling Conservatives, who suffered a drubbing in recent local elections.
The main opposition Labour party's leader, Keir Starmer, has promised to step down if police in northeast England fine him for his own alleged breach of coronavirus laws during a campaign meeting.
The gathering took place in Durham in April last year, with a video later emerging of Starmer drinking beer and eating a takeaway meal inside an office with party colleagues. — Agence France-Presse